Tonto National Forest, Mesa, Ariz. (Sept. 4, 2015) — Wild horses are an inspiration, and the Labor Day Weekend is expected to draw multitudes of visitors to the Tonto National Forest to view these iconic and beloved animals in their natural habitat along the lower Salt River. In advance of the weekend, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, whose volunteers are present daily on the river to monitor and steward the wild horses, offers the following ten tips for safe and enjoyable viewing of wild horses:
1. Observe a distance of at least 25 feet from any wild horse at any given time. If a wild horse comes toward you, please move out of its way to maintain the distance. Horses may be trying to access water — please allow them to do so. They’re just as thirsty as you are.
2. Please do not feed wild horses. Feeding wild horses an inappropriate diet could kill them, and making wild horses tame can also result in their loss of freedom.
3. Observe calm and quiet manners when in the presence of wild horses. Horses are prey animals and very sensitive to their surroundings.
4. Keep dogs leashed. Dogs are naturally inclined to chase wild horses, which causes them to flee. Horses, especially young ones, can break their legs when running over rugged terrain.
5. Be a respectful observer of wild horse behavior, but don’t interfere. Horses have incredible herd dynamics, and each behavior has a purpose. That includes “battling,” i.e., stallions challenging each other.
6. Wild horses are very willing photographic subjects, but please don’t use your flash and remember to observe the 25-foot distance.
7. Bring a garbage bag and play a role in cleaning up the Tonto National Forest. If you love wild horses, pick up some trash!
8. Observe the speed limit and heed the watch-for-horses signs. They are strategically placed at actual horse crossings.
9. Buy a Tonto National Forest day pass or yearly pass. Wild horse ecotourism is an important economic activity. Be sure to let Forest officials know that you are there to see the wild horses.
10. Take lots of pictures and post them online. Not all people have the opportunity to see wild horses in their lifetime and it’s great to share what a rare and unique treasure we have right here in the Rorest.
The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group operates a wild horse emergency hotline at 480- 868-9301. Should you witness an injured horse or an emergent event involving a horse, please call.
“Our community has an incredible natural treasure in the Salt River wild horses,” says Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group. “We hope that people have a great time viewing wild horses, while at the same time keeping the horses’ best interests at heart. We wish everyone a happy Labor Day weekend! Be like a wild horse – wild at heart and free of spirit — and never ever give up!”
The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group is a community-based, Arizona non-profit organization whose members have been observing and documenting the wild horse population along the lower Salt River in the Tonto National Forest for almost 20 years.